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USDA Forest Service and Community Partners announce action plan for Wild and Scenic Rivers

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Posted at 9:41 AM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 09:41:04-04

The USDA Forest Service and a working group of community partners have developed an action plan that emphasizes public safety and the preservation of natural resources on the congressionally-protected “wild and scenic” sections of the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine Rivers.

The action plan calls for:

· Educating the public about the values and benefits of their wild and scenic rivers; and
· Empowering visitors to be good river stewards.

To accomplish these objectives, the working group will coordinate with the Forest Service, community groups, local businesses, and other partners to develop and distribute content that promotes river safety and etiquette. Other planned actions include:

· Working with media partners to develop safety-oriented public service announcements;
· Organizing outreach and volunteer events in the wild and scenic river corridors; and
· Providing mesh bags and ties to river users at landings, liveries and other local businesses.

“[The action plan] is a constructive end result that we hope will bring positive dividends to those utilizing the resource,” said Manistee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Dontz, who serves on the community working group. “It encourages people to be cognizant of their fellow citizens, have quality recreational experiences, and maintain our natural resources.”

Additionally, the Forest Service will conduct educational outreach and public safety patrols to protect visitors and preserve the wild and scenic rivers. Those efforts will include the presence of recreational staff at river landings and joint law enforcement patrols with state and local partners in the river corridors this summer.

All Americans should have the opportunity to experience their wild and scenic rivers,” said Huron-Manistee National Forests Supervisor Leslie Auriemmo. “Our goal is to maintain a culture of respect and responsibility that preserves our natural resources, attracts visitors, and benefits local communities.”

In February 2019, the Forest Service proposed an alcohol ban on the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine Wild and Scenic Rivers to address ongoing challenges associated with excessive alcohol consumption on those waterways, including visitor safety, illegal trespass, harassment of river users, and widespread littering.

The Forest Service will not implement the alcohol ban this year. Instead, the Forest Service organized a working group to explore community actions to promote safe and responsible recreation on the wild and scenic rivers. The action plan is the product of those efforts.

Members of the public may share questions and comments about the action plan by e-mailing r9_hmnf_website@fs.fed.us, calling (231) 775-2421, or sending a letter to the Huron-Manistee National Forests, ATTN: Community Working Group, 1755 S Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI 49601.

The full action plan is available here

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